It seems like there’s a never-ending landscape of podcasts, so with our roundup of 2022′s best podcasts and seasons, we’re making it a bit easier to choose. From true-crime and political deep-dives to exploring the (not-so-secret) secrets of the wellness or tech industry, here are the best listens of the year, according to hosts and producers of The Globe and Mail’s podcasts.
Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s
This eight-part series is one of the most powerful I’ve listened to. Hosted by Connie Walker, a Cree journalist from Saskatchewan also behind other series focusing on missing and murdered Indigenous women and the sixties scoop, Surviving St. Micheal’s is about Walker’s own family history. It began when Walker heard a story about her father as an adult beating up a priest who had abused him as a child at residential school. What follows is Walker’s investigation to try and find that priest. She pores over records and speaks to members of her family to piece things together, telling these stories with compassion. For anyone looking to deepen their understanding of the residential school system and the wide-reaching effects it continues to have, this podcast is a must-listen. – Menaka Raman-Wilms, host of The Decibel
Welcome to Paradise
Like many people, I was familiar with Anna Maria Tremonti from her previous role hosting CBC Radio’s The Current, and this year she was also my mentor in the Canadian Association of Journalists mentorship program. Welcome to Paradise, a six-part series written and hosted by Tremonti, is a compelling listen, and a deeply personal journey about her abusive marriage from decades previous. She walks through how intimate partner violence can unfold, how it can be rationalized and its lasting effects. Tremonti’s compassion, strength and willingness to be vulnerable make this exceptionally powerful. – MRW
Shameless Acquisition Target
Laura Mayer was a kind, level-headed producer when I interned at my first radio gig. But what shines in this podcast about Mayer’s quest to have her podcast – this podcast – acquired after watching others make fortunes in the relatively new industry, is her humour and humanity. What could’ve been too inside-baseball becomes a story about a talented woman looking back on her career and podcasting’s meteoric rise from internet novelty to big Hollywood money. – Kasia Mychajlowycz, senior producer of The Decibel
Death of An Artist
Artist and Cuban refugee Ana Mendieta’s death was a scandal in the art world in 1985 – and then her much more famous artist husband Carl Andre stood trial for her murder. This six-episode series asks: Did Andre really kill Mendieta (despite his acquittal)? It also questions why many in the art world refused to talk about what it would mean for Andre’s art if he did. It’s a surprisingly fresh consideration of whether we ought to separate the art from the artist, rolled into true crime, accompanied by some real dishing about how the art world really works, and how that’s changing. – KM
Russia’s war on Ukraine was one of the biggest stories of 2022, and this six-episode podcast provides context behind this moment. Through the story of Boris Nemtsov, the late outspoken opponent to Putin, it focuses on the beginnings of Russia’s democracy movement, how it fell apart and the rise of Putin. The podcast is hosted by Ben Rhodes, the former deputy national security adviser to Barack Obama, and Zhanna Nemtsova, a journalist and the daughter of Boris Nemtsov. While his life ends in tragedy – in 2015, he was shot dead outside of the Kremlin – the podcast is about Nemtsov never giving up the battle for democracy, his hopes for a different Russia and about a daughter’s love for her father. – Sherrill Sutherland, producer at The Decibel
This is a great podcast for anyone who has been sucked into a diet fad or may have questions about what “wellness” really means. Although it started nearly two years ago, hosts Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes’s biweekly (ish) episodes dive into topics like how the Food Pyramid came to be or why “calories in, calories out” is not the way calories work. I love the show for the witty banter, the research the hosts put into debunking health and wellness myths and for the reminder that a handful of blueberries won’t magically cure all that ails me. – SS
Apple may have defined the medium, but its Podcasts app continues to inch ever closer to being completely unusable with each passing day. Nevertheless, no new series has dominated my (molasses-slow, badly designed) Podcasts app like Normal Gossip has this year. If you, like me, have spent any part of the pandemic missing dishy gatherings with friends where you gasp, gush and gawk at the spectacularly juicy yet entirely ordinary dramas of the lives of people neither of you really know, you need to start binging this joyful show. – Adrian Lee, Host of City Space
The New York Times’ Hard Fork wasn’t meant to be a replacement for the iconic Kara Swisher’s frankly less-iconic Sway show. (Pivot was and remains far more compelling.) But having launched just four months after her departure from the Times, this new show from columnist Kevin Roose and Platformer’s Casey Newton – arguably the best there is on the tech beat right now – feels like a spiritual successor. The two are clearly tapped-in, share a crisp rapport, and rarely get too in-the-weeds about a subject that can get awfully shrubby; they’ve also already proven to be on the bleeding edge of the zeitgeist, diving deep on generative AI before OpenAI’s ChatGPT became the (dystopian) talk of the town. Distilling esoteric tech talk so laypeople can accessibly understand the latest developments and dramas, and how they might affect society – that should sway you to lend it an ear. – AL
I’ve been thinking a lot about work lately – from inefficiencies in our current workplaces, what motivates us and how to get that thing you want out of your career – and as such I’ve returned to a long-time favourite of mine, WorkLife with Adam Grant. The podcast is hosted by an organizational psychologist and delves into the minds of a wild range of guests to discover keys to a better work life. From writer Celeste Ng on clear communication to free solo climber Alex Honnold on fear, sometimes the career insights you need come from the most wonderfully unexpected people. Plus, there are great episodes about the more tactical, like this one on how to pitch your best ideas. – Kiran Rana, Executive Producer of Podcasts, Globe Content Studio.
If you’re looking for a binge-able listen, Sweet Bobby is well worth it. Like many others, this investigative-style podcast about the devastating impacts of catfishing had me hooked, and thinking about deeper issues in our society: the faces we project for social media and the lack of consequence for online deceit. – KR
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